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Speaking at RAS Meetings: Frequently Asked Questions

These notes are intended for speakers at RAS A&G ('Ordinary') Meetings. They don't generally apply to presentations at Specialist Discussion Meetings; speakers at Specialist Discussions should consult the meeting organizers, who are responsible for the detailed arrangements of their own meetings.


Please identify yourself to one of the RAS Officers before the meeting (A&G meetings start promptly at 16:00).


  1. Can I claim expenses?  Yes. The Society will reimburse modest and appropriate travel expenses for invited speakers at its Ordinary ('A&G') meetings. These may include standard class return rail fares, or, if more appropriate, an internal UK flight with a budget airline. The Society cannot however cover accommodation or subsistence expenses, or, other than in exceptional circumstances, international travel. All such expenses should be discussed with the Senior Secretary at the time of accepting the invitation to speak.
  2. How long do I get? The standard 'slot' is 25 minutes, which includes any time for questions.
  3. Where should I 'pitch' my talk? The audience is primarily professional astronomers and geophysicists, with a range of specializations. (Advanced amateur astronomers may also be present.) The technical content of talks should be appropriate for an interdisciplinary group of scientists, and should therefore include adequate background material to provide a context for any new results.
  4. How many people in the audience? The audience is typically 100–120 (enough that the lecture theatre is pretty full).
  5. Can I use PowerPoint? Yes; all the Society's venues have digital projection facilities, and the Geological Society Lecture Theatre, where currently A&G ('Ordinary') Meetings are held, has a separate, staffed, projection booth with a PC running MS Windows. We recommend that you bring your talk on a USB stick and have it loaded onto the PC before the meeting starts (RAS staff can help). This not only also saves you having to carry a laptop around, but also eliminates faffing about with reboots and switching cables at the lectern. If you do bring your own laptop, we recommend that you still bring a "backup" copy of your talk on CD or USB memory stick, just to be on the safe side. (We can handle most other common media, or download material from ftp sites, given a few day's notice.) For other venues we can provide a laptop, or you can bring your own.
    You should contact the projectionist fifteen minutes or so before the start of the meeting in order to get things set up.
  6. What about OpenOffice?  Or pdf? Sure, but if you plan to use the RAS laptop discuss this with the Senior Secretary  in advance.
  7. What about slides, overheads, etc? No problem – but if you have slides, you should contact the projectionist fifteen minutes or so before the start of the meeting in order to get things set up.
  8. Will my talk be published anywhere? Summaries of talks, and the following question and answer sessions, are published in 'The Observatory' magazine as a matter of course. Speakers are normally contacted before the meeting by one of the Reporting Editors (Steve Fossey and Bob Argyle) for a short write-up of the talk. At least one Reporting Editor attends the meeting to help record the Q&A session, and is available to answer speakers' queries. 'The Observatory' is sent to most major observatories and astronomy departments around the world and so is a good way to get your work widely reported.

Any more questions? Feel free to contact the Senior Secretary.